Bellevue 2-0 Juanita
45th min Kendall (Saleen)
67th min Amy (Mia)
One of my favorite comics as a kid was Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson. It's not about the eponymous religious philosophers, but about a young boy, Calvin, and his imaginary best friend and stuffed tiger, Hobbes, and their many adventures. It's sweet, funny, clever, playful, and surprisingly deep sometimes. One of my favorite less-deep storylines was whenever Calvin and Hobbes started to play an organized sport, their playtime quickly devolved into "Calvinball," a free-flowing imagination game where the rules are constantly changing and fun is the only objective.
There were definitely a few times last night during our game against Juanita when I thought our players were more like a "badminton player disguised as a double-agent [soccer] player" or even "...a volleyball-croquet polo" player instead of the ruthlessly efficient goal-scorers we witnessed vs. Mt. View who scored 5 goals on their first 6 shots. Last night in our Kingco home-opener versus Juanita, we were slightly less focused in front of goal, but still dominant in possession and chances created: 30 shots attempted with a whopping 15 corners; versus 0 shots from Juanita and 2 corners. Um, Yeah. That statline really happened. So I'd like to tap into my inner child and imagine that we were simply playing Calvinball and thought our shots off the post counted double? Or perhaps shots over the goal and through the football uprights were like cricket-six-pointers, baseball ground-rule doubles, and football field goals...combined...in which case, our total score would've been overwhelmingly in our favor. Calvinball is whatever we want it to be as long as it's fun.
And it was fun. Despite a 0-0 halftime score, we played some wonderful soccer. And yes, in the real-world, watching shot after shot fail to score gets frustrating, but the smiles and laughter and eagerness to carry on were encouraging. We knew a goal was coming. We applied pressure on the Juanita goal from the first minute until the last and created plenty of goal-scoring chances. There will be some nights, like against Mt. View, when it seems like every shot goes in, and on other nights, those same shots hit the post, slide narrowly wide, or get saved by a keeper who puts in an inspired performance. That's sport. So I'm proud that our team found a way to win the game, because we earned a result from the quality of our overall play, and the 3 points we earned from our victory are the same whether our strike rate is 80% or 8%.
What I can guarantee is that if we don't allow a single shot on goal, we aren't going to lose many games. And we didn't. And we haven't. So well done to everyone for committing to our philosophy of team defense. We attack with 11, and defend with 11.
In the end, Kenny broke the deadlock in the 45th minute with a beautiful shot from 30 yards that found the upper left corner of the goal. Joyous relief. Then the game was sealed in the 67th minute when Mia cut-back a cross from the left wing that Amy finished bravely with a one-time shot while getting clattered by the goalkeeper. 2-0 Bellevue final score.
In the imaginary Calvinball universe, the score would've been 73 to % (or maybe W to 17), and everyone would've gone home afterward for some hot chocolate and a plate of cookies. But we'll gladly take our first Kingco win of 2023. We'll take it and are thankful for it.
Next week we play three games. Two non-conference games versus Skyline (away Tuesday) and Bainbridge (home Saturday), and a Kingco game versus Hazen (home Thursday). Skyline is the defending 4A state champions and also undefeated this season so it should be a very good test. And when you're the defending 3A champs, every time we step onto the field our opponents will be up for the challenge, so I expect Hazen and Bainbridge to give us their very best. No gimmies.
P.S. Incidentally, our win against Juanita marks our 100th varsity win since I joined the program before the 2016 season (and yes, coach John Hunter still has a better winning percentage than I do...). I'm proud of this program, and I'm proud of all of the teams, parent volunteers, and players, who have contributed to our century of Bellevue wins during that period. Yes, yes, I still strongly believe that soccer is the "most important, least important thing," and as such, there are lots of things that are way more important than high school soccer wins.
But it is nice.
100 is a cool number.
And I sincerely hope that we can add a few more during our 2023 campaign (17 more opportunities: 12 more regular season + 5 potential playoffs). We're off to a promising start.